PhilSys biometric collection timeline set, bill proposes electronic voter registration system

Philippines using digitalization to tackle pandemic effects
PhilSys biometric collection timeline set, bill proposes electronic voter registration system

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) will start collecting fingerprints, photographs and iris biometrics from registrants to its Philsys national ID scheme at the end of November, the Philippine Canadian Inquirer reports.

The move is Step 2 in the country’s three-step pre-registration program that will see PSA gathering biometric data from 664 cities and municipalities in the country’s 32 provinces. Step 1 will be the collection of demographic data from targeted low-income Filipinos, beginning next week. The collection of biometric data is expected to be completed by the end of December.

Registrants’ Personal Serial Number (PSN) and Philippine Identification (PhilID) card will be issued at the beginning of 2021, National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said last Friday in a virtual press briefing.

According to Mapa, the ultimate goal of the plan is to complete the registration and the issuance of the documents by the end of 2022.

“Our target is 92 million, despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic,” he explained.

The National Statistician also reassured the public the registration measures during Steps 1, 2, and 3 will be enhanced to guarantee citizens’ safety.

These will include stringent disinfection measures, physical distancing, and the wearing of personal protective equipment.

House of Representatives files bill to create electronic voters registration system

Riding the wave of digitization in the Philippines, a bill filed in the House of Representatives to provide the legal underpinning for a biometric digital voter registration system.

According to Manila Bulletin, the new bill would modify the “Voter’s Registration Act of 1996” by adding a provision on online voter registration.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will establish a security system to register citizens’ biometric information into the system. In-person registration involves people presenting two government-issued and signed photo IDs, having their thumbprints scanned, and submitting signature samples and a current photograph.

The data for remote registration can be submitted through a dedicated app, which confirms the applicant’s digital identity via face recognition and passport chip technologies.

Online registration is temporary, and applicants must visit a Comelec office for biometrics collection after the government declares an end to the current national emergency caused by the pandemic.

House Assistant Majority Leader Anthony Peter Crisologo was the one filing the bill, justifying its necessity by mentioning how the pandemic could present an obstacle to traditional voter registration processes.

The proposal stipulates that such a system should consequently be used only in cases of “national emergency.”

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